Younis’ dilemma

Younis Khan is reluctant to accept captaincy on a long-term basis, but the Pakistan vice-captain realises the need to step in if skipper Shoaib Malik is injured, writes S. Dinakar.

Apart from cricket, a series between India and Pakistan is an exercise in bridge building. The people to people contact removes doubts and apprehensions and encourages friendship. Veteran Pakistani journalist Qamar Ahmed tells a young Indian scribe, “I am a full Indian; I was born in India before Partition. You were born here after Partition. You are half-Indian!”

Qamar Ahmed was born in Uttar Pradesh before his family moved to Pakistan. A competent left-arm spinner who almost made it to the Pakistan team, Ahmed eventually settled down in England to pursue a career in journalism. Pakistani legends, Imran Khan and Javed Miandad lived in his London apartment while taking their early steps in county cricket. Ahmed has seen and survived generations.

Ahmed is pleased with the Bangalore weather — this is English weather, he says — but is concerned about the media not adhering to old values. The line between speculation and truth is getting thinner.

Like Ahmed, Javed Akhtar, Pakistan team’s media coordinator, is disappointed by the rumours about Younis Khan declining to lead the side in the final Test. “First one television channel flashed it, and then the rest followed,” he says. “Arey bhai, he is the vice-captain and there really was no doubt about Younis leading the side in Bangalore. There could be differences in the team-management meetings of any team. The majority opinion prevails. This does not mean Younis will refuse to lead the side,” he says.

While Younis is reluctant to accept captaincy on a long-term basis, the vice-captain realises that he has to step in if skipper Shoaib Malik is injured.

Javed Akhtar is an old hand in journalism. After contributing to Indian sports for years, he is settled in the Gulf. The job with the Pakistan team offered him an opportunity to travel to the land where his heart is — India. He too disagrees with the practice of carrying sensitive stories without relevant quotes. “All they need to do is to check with the authority concerned. It should not take more than a couple of calls. Carrying stories without checking the facts is not fair to the player concerned,” he says.

All things considered, the 24-hour news channels have their own compulsions. They need to generate news to keep the channel running everyday.

The reporters, understandably, are under pressure to create stories. Given the reach of the electronic media, the print journalists are often driven by the television channels. Herein lies the danger for the print community.

For the third and final Test at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, the weather is the biggest threat. The clouds are dark and dense and there are frequent spells of rain. But when the match begins the clouds disappear magically. The weather, like news, is not always predictable.

Meanwhile a senior Kolkata journalist, Shyam Sundar Ghosh, declares he would present Rs. 10,000 to any cricketer who breaks his unique record in the Cricket Association of Bengal League. A genuine swing bowler in his heyday, Ghosh sent down just over five overs to pick up an astonishing seven wickets without conceding a run. “Politics prevented me from representing Bengal in Ranji Trophy,” he agonises.

In the coffee shop outside, former India batsman Sujith Somasundar regales us with humorous tales from his playing days. This is cricket; there will be stories and more stories.